If you want to be a good designer, set aside the glossy magazines, turn off your computer, and seek out first-hand encounters with good design. When it comes to cities, buildings, and art, actual experience is almost always better than the virtual kind. No image can replicate Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp when the light is just right, or capture the silent speech one hears on a stroll through Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta, or explain hours dissolving in Peter Zumthor’s baths at Vals. That is the reason for this book: to encourage you to actively pursue direct aesthetic experience in the built environment, and to reflect upon the best reasons and ways to be a dedicated design traveler.
Traveling to learn is an integral part of the education of student architects and designers. It is vital for designers to know how to be effective design travelers, to know how to seek out and encounter places, buildings, and objects, and to develop a capacity for looking, drawing, and, above all, discerning. But to be a student is only to be “one who is studying,” which means all of us who, if we are truly alive, delight in the application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge.
From the preface of the book The Architect’s Tour
Reviews of the Book
Pointed, focused, and meditative, this book exemplifies the traveling architect realizing built form.
John R. Stilgoe, Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape, Harvard University
The message of The Architect’s Tour is an important one: whether conceived in the abstract realm of paper or a computer screen, architecture’s ultimate sphere of power is and always has been in the real world. The laboratory and classroom of the student architect is ‘out there’: and it is stocked with wonderful places to visit and awe-inspiring buildings to study. Ben Jacks insists you go out into the world and look…because he knows you will become a better and better architect by filling your imagination with memories of great architecture! He also helps…by providing handy pointers to planning your own architectural tours.
Simon Unwin, author of Analysing Architecture
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About the Author
Ben Jacks, a designer, architect, writer, and teacher, holds degrees from the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Maine. In between trips to experience and take pictures of buildings, he teaches courses in beginning design, human behavior, design detailing, and understanding architecture through drawing.
As a designer, Ben focuses on detail and craft, seeking to develop the potentially rich and intimate relationship between landscape, building, furniture, and interior. He is currently at work designing and building the second of two houses for his own family: a LEED Platinum, net-zero, passive house in Cincinnati, Ohio (the first was completed in Deer Isle, Maine in 2012).
In 1991 Ben walked the Appalachian Trail, 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. This experience of walking and camping inspired and continues to inform his thinking and writing about architecture, aesthetics, landscape, and place, which has been published in Journal of Architectural Education, Places, and Landscape Journal, and presented at the Courtauld Institute, London. He is an Associate Professor, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
He lives with his family in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Deer Isle, Maine.
Below is one of the images from the book, taken by Ben Jacks in Paris. The billboard photograph of the Spanish Steps in Rome is part of the exhibition ‘Petite Planete’: Martin Paar, Jeu de Paume Gallery, Paris.
ISBN 978-1941892022 (for paperback version)
Copyright: Ben Jacks (Standard Copyright License)
Edition: First English Edition
Publisher: Culicidae Architectural Press, an Imprint of Culicidae Press, LLC
Published 25 January 2015
Binding: Varies by version
Interior Ink: Full Color
Weight: varies by version, but about 1 lbs.
Dimensions (inches): varies by version but paper size is 5.5 inches wide × 8.5 inches tall